Students mourn after a suicide and an apparent natural death

With graduation Friday, Lynnwood High School is trying to grieve and celebrate all at once.

LYNNWOOD — As a campus mourns, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner has provided some answers to the deaths of two Lynnwood High School students.

One boy died by suicide; the other of apparent natural causes. The deaths occurred within 48 hours of one another.

The students who died were teammates on the varsity football team. Both were 17 and died in their homes.

This was supposed to be a time for relief and celebration.

The last day of classes for Lynnwood High School seniors is Thursday. A senior breakfast and graduation is Friday.

The boy who committed suicide was a junior. His mother reported his death on social media, saying “he was my everything, my best friend, a loving brother and an inspiration to so many.”

The other boy was a senior.

“The cause and manner of death are pending further lab studies, but the cause and manner of death appear to be due to natural causes. There are no suspicious circumstances,” the medical examiner reported.

Their deaths have tempered the anticipation of graduation and the end of the school year.

School leaders said they recognize that and are trying to guide students through their grief. For example, they decided to make final exams for seniors optional unless students want to improve their grades.

Students and staff are wearing yellow ribbons to remember their classmates.

The school community also is discussing how the commencement ceremony Friday might respectfully acknowledge the loss of the two classmates while marking the accomplishments of graduates, some of whom are the first in their families to finish high school.

“There is a balance between the grieving and the celebration,” said Kelly Franson, an Edmonds School District spokeswoman.

Extra counselors were on the Lynnwood campus Monday and Tuesday to help students who needed support.

Some warning signs of suicide include feeling hopeless, isolating oneself and having extreme mood swings, among others.

If a person thinks someone else has suicidal thoughts, they should ask, said Heather Thomas, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.

“Talking about suicide doesn’t put the idea of suicide in their head, but asking if they’re having those thoughts or if there’s something you can do to help opens up the dialogue,” she said.

Eight young people in Snohomish County have died by suicide this school year, which is high, she said. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state for those ages 15 to 34.

People can speak with counselors and find other resources either online or over the phone. Those who think someone else needs help can also reach out.

Some free and confidential lifelines include Care Crisis Chat serving Western Washington at imhurting.org or 800-584-3578, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 800-273-8255, and the Trevor Project Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth at thetrevor project.org or 866-488-7386. If there is immediate danger, call 911.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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